I’ve been hibernating. The wilds of Vermont are good for that.

While the mid-Atlantic coast struggles to get back on its feet after Sandy knocked it off balance and the rest of the country gasps for political-ad-free air in the run-up to Tuesday’s election, my days have been filled with light gardening, hosting nightly cocktail hour, and tending a near constant fire.

It’s all very dignified and centering, but can’t last forever, so Friday, I stuck my toe in the waters of the real world.

The day started with a first: a massage. Carrie stopped by the house and set up her chair in the downstairs living room adjacent to the room in which I’ve been sleeping. I kept all my clothes on; there were no scary medical release papers or atmospheric candles just a simple statement about her training and deep tissue technique.

She focused on the areas previously identified in my French GDS assessment as problematic, and I’m inclined to believe my hyper-AL disposition might now be more balanced.

Next, I ran over to the Rauner rare books library at Dartmouth where White River Junction’s Main Street Museum was having their annual visit. (I first wrote about the Main Street Museum in the Jan/Feb issue of ArtThrob.)

Eight members of the regionally renowned quirky cabinet of curiosity that is MSM sat around a table with the special collections librarian as he explored the theme of “wood,” a theme that might or might not be featured as a upcoming exhibit.

Our exploration started with a splinter of wood that appeared to have no more meaningful purpose than kindling. Perhaps it had been broken from a chair or similar, but in itself it possessed no significance, trash.

The purpose of the exercise was to observe how seemingly meaningless objects become “encrusted” with meaning. The splinter was donated by an alum in the 70s who had hung on to it since his days as a student in the 20s. According to the Dartmouth man’s letter, the splinter came from a goal post that was torn down after the Dartmouth football team defeated Yale for the first time in many years.

Additional letters in the collection from that time period tell more of the story. Dartmouth was invited to play in the Rose Bowl and against the newly franchised professional Chicago Bears football team. Dartmouth, apparently, was a national football powerhouse in the early 20th century.

But Dartmouth’s president declined both of these invitations, citing concern for the young men’s education – a trip from the wilds of New Hampshire to California’s Pacific coast would have cost the students at least a week away traveling by train.

Today, Dartmouth’s football team is not getting any fancy invitations like these. There was joking around our table that the President of Dartmouth today would need to decline out of concern for the young men’s health.

Later that night as I relayed the story of the meaningless splinter of wood amidst a Burgundian feast (kirs around the fire, boeuf bourguigon, epoisse), I thought about with what meaning these weeks of hibernation might someday become encrusted.

Just as the values that informed the choices surrounding that meaningless splinter of a goal post can be projected and tell a story of Dartmouth today (an academic rather than football powerhouse), it will be curious to see how the values and choices I make around these seemingly meaningless weeks of hibernation are projected and affect the life I live in the decades to come.

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